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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Confessions of a European Hotelroom

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Confessions of a European Hotelroom

I don't think I'll ever forget this one customer I had once....who had an absolute FIT when he went to his room and saw his double bed....woe is me did I get a tongue lashing...the front desk too!  Before you blow a few steam valves or just get surprised, check these things out.

The bed or should I say double bed.  If you stay at an American branded chain like Marriott or Hilton (more money), you'll typically see queen sized beds...there are even a few kings to be found.  Otherwise, you are looking at two twins pushed together with a crack down the middle.  In fact, you let your hotel know if it's two singles or a couple, and they will pull them apart or push them together.  It's a European thing, so don't fight it and accept it.

Sink in room.  Many of the older style hotel rooms will have a sink in the room rather than in the bathroom.  You'll even find some houses that still have the sink in the bedrooms...it's just different.  So go do your thing in the toilet located in the "water closet" (WC) and then come out and wash your hands or brush your teeth.


  • Smaller rooms.  Most newer construction has smaller rooms.  Check out the Tune Hotel chain (from the Far East), with their first hotel in London....can you say shoebox?  Let's see if it catches on.




  • Continental breakfast.  Look, most hotels will not have big American buffets or even English or Irish breakfasts....but if they do, they will advertise it!  I've seen "continental" mean anything from a day old roll w/some butter, jelly and coffee....to nicer spreads with fresh breads & rolls, meats, cheeses, fruits, sausage links and hardboiled eggs.  Some of these hotels you can find on Trip Advisor, so be sure to see what they say....or read the description carefully or just ask.  Most hotels serve something in between what I mentioned.  Always check to see if breakfast is included.  Many times it is not.




  • What the heck is a bidet?  It sort of looks like a toilet and it IS in the bathroom.  Many Americans think it is for feet washing...and it can be...but really, it for washing your...how should I say....privates....get refreshed without having to take a shower.  Believe it or not, not all Europeans bathe or shower every day...or even use deodorant.  Get used to it and move on and wash yourself in the bidet if you are so inclined.




  • Porn channels. No, there are no blocks and you might come back to your little ones surfing the porn channels.  You don't get charged til you've been on one for a certain amount of time....so conceivably, your little ones could be very slick and just surf from one porn channel to another.  The Europeans are more "free" with body image and looking at nakedness.  You'll see kids running around naked at the community swimming pool or watering hole...sometimes women topless...even tv shows during prime time and commercials show the occasional winky or boob.  It's just not a big deal over here.




  • No AC.  Honestly, it's going to be pretty rare to see a hotel with it...although more seem to be getting it.  Even some of the nicer ones don't have it.  Germany is not known for hot summers...but ask any American living overseas, and they'll tell you otherwise!




  • Elevators.  Not many to be found in the smaller hotels.  It is not unusual to walk up three flights of stairs to get to your room....travel light!  Small hotels will also use every available space, so don't be surprised if you are on the top floor, under the eaves and having to duck down to get to your bed.




  • No top sheet.  Europeans sleep with duvets.  I use these at home cause I hate tucking in sheets.  Of course Marriott and some of the others will have duvets AND top sheets!




  • No internet.  More and more hotels are trying to catch up with offering this.  Many who do offer it will only offer it in the lobby...some wifi signals just won't get to the top floors or through some of the thick walls if it's supposedly hotel-wide.  Try to find your hotel on Tripadvisor to find out.




  • A different level of customer service.  Or maybe I should just say different.... period.  Many times Americans want to call Europeans rude (and don't get me wrong, there are some rude people over here) but being ignored at the desk and not being asked 20x if you need anything or is everything okay is mostly the norm here.




  • Parking can be an issue.  When I book a hotel, knowing I'm driving there, I always check out their parking situation.  If it's too expensive for our tastes, I'll look elsewhere nearby for public parking.  I do this all online before we go...I calculate it into our room cost, cause who wants a cheap room and then have to pay out the wazoo for parking?  Some of the garages may also have trouble accomondating big American cars, so we usually travel with our second little zip-zip Eurocar.




  •  Bathroom/toilet down the hall or strangely located.  Check that price for that hotel room.  Some of the smaller hotels and hostels will have one or the other down the hall...to share with other hotel guests.  If you've ever shared a toilet with a guy...and you are a girl...at least for me...that is just NOT going to happen with anyone but my husband.  I recently learned what a "hero dump" was and never want to repeat that experience again!  Please also remember that hostels and B&Bs nowadays sometimes DO have the facilities in the room...read carefully or ask!  What do I mean by strangely located?  We once stayed in this wonderful old villa in Berlin....the landlady had lived there since before the war...the place was full of Persian carpets and beautiful furniture....wonderful high ceilings and a mezzanine...our room....great, except for the one piece shower that was two steps from one side of the bed...it looked so out of place, and I tripped over it more than once on the way to the toilet at night, which was down the hall.




  • Thankfully, over the years traveling throughout Europe, I've grown my collection of nice hotel rooms, B&Bs and hostels.  But, I am always up for adventure, so always comparison-shop on my two favorite sites, booking.com and hostelworld.com.  I love that they both have honest reviews and that only people who have stayed at those hotels can write up a review.  Don't take one review at face value but try to read a few of them to paint an overall picture.  For the reviews not in English, use Google Translate to get the gist of the message, especially if it's a negative one.

    All in all, you are going to experience some amazing hotels and their owners and learn a few tricks and tips along the way.  You may even stay in some dives and dumps and have some great pics to show for it!  If you'd like to share any of your gems with my fellow readers, please post them below!  You know me and funny stories/photos....would love to hear/see those too!

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    5 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So hilarious I don't know what to do with! I have never been to Europe but I am just thinking OMG what it must be like! I really want to go to experience it for ME!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:02 AM  
    Anonymous Collin Burkott said...

    Stayed at a hotel near Normandy and man, was it a small room! Nice, new construction, but it had a double bed, and a loft over it with a single. A teeny desk attached to the wall. Sink in room, and teeny toilet room and shower. =) But, it was just to sleep in, so no problem!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:26 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Aren't we spoiled as Americans? Always expecting things our way?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:11 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Spoiled? Really? How about blessed that we have such nice accomidations here. I get realy tired of the American bashing. Yes, we have our faults but so does every country.

    July 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM  
    Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

    I just think it's the "big pond" effect...even though technology is bringing everyone in the world closer....the USA is still quite a distance from Europe and most Americans just don't know any better...it's not a good or bad thing, just something to recognize!

    Always travel with an open mind and no expectations, and you'll NEVER get disappointed!

    July 4, 2011 at 10:12 AM  

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